Have an old chair sitting around the house gathering dust? Well, why not UPCYCLE it into a charming succulent planter and create a unique feature for your garden that will be a talking point for all of your visitors.
Chairs are plentiful at op-shops, recycling centres and road side collections, and they are often made of hard wood, which means a strong sturdy base that will tolerate both water and sunlight. A breezy weekend project, a succulent chair like this will look fabulous in all garden sizes, even the smallest of patio spaces.
Preparing the Chair:
Creating a Hole – Some chairs come with a padded seat, that when removed reveal a perfect frame to plant into. Other chairs will require a hole to be cut in the seat. This extra step can be advantageous, as you can cut the hole to any size or shape – circular, square, curved at the back. Cut as much or as little of the seat away as you desire.
Building Depth – The deeper the planter box is in the chair, the more established the roots of your plants can become, extending the life of your display. And again, some chairs come with a perfect frame that’s a good 5cm – 10cm deep. But if this isn’t the case, you may need to add a wooden frame to the bottom of the seat to create some depth. If you’re not the best at DIY wood work, don’t be afraid! It doesn’t have to look super neat; you won’t see much of the frame once it is all planted up.
Attaching a Bottom – We stapled wire mesh to the bottom of our seat’s frame. Mesh is ideal to use in this circumstance, as it allows water to drain freely. Don’t worry about your potting mix falling though just yet - We will cover that shortly.
Styling – You can paint your chair in a vibrant colour, or keep it natural like we have done. Shabby chic is popular right now, and is very easy to accomplish by painting on a colour and then sanding it half away. A coat of sealant will protect the wood and make it last longer, but isn’t entirely necessary if you don’t have the time.
Planting it up:
Moss – Place a layer of sphagnum moss in the bottom of your frame. This will prevent potting mix falling through the mesh. Sphagnum Moss comes in dehydrated bricks and to prepare it, simply soak it in water for 10 to 15 minutes.
Potting Mix – Next, fill with a good quality, free draining cacti and succulent potting mix. Use large natural objects like rocks, logs or drift wood to create height in your base, and then fill in the spaces between with your mix.
Plants – Start by planting the largest feature plants first and work your way down to the small fillers. Combine succulents with similar colours and shapes for a classic, sophisticated design, or play with different colour and shape combinations for a more eclectic look. We have planted ours out entirely with Cacti – Taller ones at the back and squattier ones at the front. We also used a small log as a retaining wall in the middle to give the back section more height.
Mulch - Once you are happy with the design, water in the plants before applying a topping of gravel or small pebbles. A topping like this helps insulate the roots from intense heat or cold and prevents the mix from drying out and becoming water repellent. It is also helpful in securing plants into place, and preventing soil erosion. Water thoroughly a second time to allow the gravel to settle.
Sun - Keep your chair in a nice, bright spot. Avoid direct sunlight in the afternoon and on days where the temperature is over 38 degrees.
Water - Water thoroughly every couple of days when the weather is mild. Water more often in the hotter months and cut right back during winter.
Pruning and Fertiliser - Prune the foliage every so often to keep the plants nice and compact, and remove any dead foliage. Fertilise with a control release fertiliser as directed.
This is our cactus chair as part of our SPELLBOUND display at the Perth Garden Festival 2021. The sign reads: "Complaints department - Please take a seat..."